Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1727 18
J. Smith - M. Christie - M. Tzaferis
  • Dependency benefits (separation)

The worker suffered a right hand crush injury in 1980, for which the Board granted the worker a 20% pension, later increased to 35%. The worker died in 2006 as a result of an overdose of medication used to manage the pain from his compensable injury. The Board paid funeral expenses but denied survivor benefits. The worker's spouse appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying survivor benefits.

Since the accident occurred in 1980, the pre-1985 Act applied. Section 36(1) provides for survivor benefits to a widow. Section 1(1)(f) defines dependants as members of the family who are wholly or partially dependent on the worker's earnings at the time of the worker's death. Section 1(1)(g) defines a dependent widow as a woman who was the legal wife and a dependant of the worker immediately before his death.
The Panel found that the widow was not a dependant of the worker. The worker and the spouse were separated. The spouse had not received spousal support from the worker since two years after their separation. To the contrary, the spouse had been financially assisting the worker. Since the widow was not a dependant of the worker, she was not entitled to survivor benefits.
The Panel also noted that s. 36(5) did not apply to allow entitlement to survivor benefits regarding the son, as the son was 16 years old at the time of the death of the worker. Section 36 only provides survivor benefits for children under 16 years of age at the time of the death of the worker.
The appeal was dismissed.